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Yogurt: Health Benefits, Alternatives, and Meals

by on June 4, 2014
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By Kyle Swain

As an easy snack or part of the meal on the go, yogurt is a great addition to any diet for overall health

Yogurt’s Nutrition Profile

Websites such as Dannon show what is contained in their yogurt

Yogurt comes in a wide variety of types, from nonfat to full fat.  We recommend either non to low fat for optimal health, depending on your nutrition needs.  These increase satiety without ruining your diet.  Be on the lookout for yogurt that has a large amount of added sugar, as too much beyond the natural sugars will wind up having adverse effects on your health.

Health Benefits

Strong Bones

Yogurt helps build and maintain strong bones through its high amount of calcium and added vitamin D.  The combination strengthens bones and prevents conditions such as osteoporosis.

Energy Production

Riboflavin, B-12, and other B vitamins found in yogurt are crucial for energy production and your overall cardiovascular health.  Yogurt’s natural sugars and proteins help to keep you awake and alert as well.

Keeps Blood Pressure in Check

The American Heart Association reports findings that regular consumption of yogurt helps prevent high blood pressure, and those who eat it often have a lower systolic blood pressure than those who abstain from the dairy products.

Weight Control

Studies have shown that yogurt is an effective weight loss tool.  Calcium intake is associated with healthy body fat levels in children.  The protein content in yogurt is likely the reason for this, since it gives a higher sense of satiety than other snacks. Greek yogurt is especially good since it has an even higher protein content than most types of yogurt typically found at the grocery store.

Active Cultures for Immunity and Gut Health

Purposefully putting bacteria into food may sound like a bad idea, but it does wonders for your overall health.  The cultures help promote healthy gut bacteria that, according to WebMD, assist with problems such as inflammatory bowel disease. It can assist your body’s resistance to and recovery from infections.

How to Enjoy Yogurt in Your Diet

Yogurt is a perfect food that can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.  Here are a few ideas for both sides of the spectrum.

Parfait

One of the most common uses (besides straight out of the container) is the yogurt parfait.  In a container, add alternate layers of yogurt and fruit to create this super simple dish.  Granola or cold cereal can be added on top for some more flavor and a bit of a crunch.  It is great for hot summer days and incredibly healthy too.

Smoothie

Yogurt smoothies make the perfect on-the-go meal for those who are too busy breakfast.  Toss some yogurt, fruit, nuts, or any other additions you enjoy into a blender until thoroughly mixed.  Now you have a super easy on-the-go, healthy breakfast to start your morning.

Overnight Yogurt

The night before, put some yogurt and milk in a container along with some chia seeds.  Other options such as peanut butter or bananas can be added as well.  In the morning, the chia seeds will have absorbed the liquid to make for a thicker and denser texture, ready to go from your first waking moments.

Yogurt Salad Dressing

Yogurt is the perfect way to dress your salad without adding too much extra fat or sugar.  Simply take 1 cup of plain yogurt, juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and one to two cloves of garlic chopped coarsely, and you are all set.

Chana Saag

Chana Saag is a wonderfully spiced Indian dish using yogurt, spinach, and chick peas.  The yogurt acts as a big component of the sauce, binding everything together.  There are several recipes and variations, but here is one to get you started.

Where can I Buy Yogurt?

Yogurt can be found in most grocery stores.  The Greek variety is showing up and available in many common big groceries stores as of late as well.

Yogurt Alternatives?

If you are concerned about eating dairy products for dietary or ethical reasons, there are plenty of alternatives to look for.

Soy Yogurt

Stonyfield’s Soy Yogurt

Soy yogurt offers many of the benefits of dairy yogurt with none of the dairy.  It has complete proteins and calcium as well as providing heart benefits.

Almond Yogurt

Almond Dream’s Yogurt

If you can make milk out of it, you can make a yogurt out of it, and almonds are no exception.  Boasting several vitamins and minerals, almonds make a great yogurt.  For more in-depth details on their health benefits, check out our previous article on almonds.

Coconut Yogurt

So Delicious’ Coconut Yogurt

With a combination of fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and B vitamins, coconut yogurt is an easy alternative with that classic coconut flavor.  Although lower in protein content, it is still an excellent choice for snacks or meals on-the-go.


 

 

Yogurt is a wonder food that will aid you in you all your activities. It provides healthy energy for an active lifestyle.  So go ahead and give yogurt a try along with the multitude of recipes and diary alternatives available.  You’ll be glad you did.

Edited by: Avery Osborn

 

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